INTRODUCING THE CAPSULE ROOM.
This is the first peek of our upcoming Capsule Room —- it’s our cutting-edge, experimental room built for the future!
It might look like something that’s come out of a sci-fi flick, but we assure you…it’s going to be very real.
Also, if you haven’t checked it out yet, take a look at our upcoming 3-Bed Loft here!
Might I say now that I cannot, cannot, cannot wait for the renovations at Backhome to be done? Backhome is my favorite spot in all of Kuala Lumpur: impressive things considering how in love I am with this city.
‘Perang Bintang’ by Take Huat. Fusion of wayang kulit and Star Wars. Check out Luke’s details. Go see Vader @ Designers Weekend, Publika.
Wayang kulit1 Luke Skywalker? We at KLang Verbally absolutely love this.
1Wayang kulit: shadow theatre, the traditional Malay artform where a storyteller tells a story through the use of elaborate puppets and shadowplay.
1920s - Kuala Lumpur railway station
vintage-kl is an excellent blog. Favorite find today.
Like every city, KL has good trains and bad trains.
Kelana Jaya line LRT1? Excellent service. It covers the best parts of the city, cuts straight from Gombak to Kelana Jaya in little under an hour, and can shuttle through rush hour with enough frequent trains to keep congestion on the down low. It’s got, by far, the best stations among the city metro services. It connects with major public locations, most notably KLCC, Masjid Jamek and Bangsar. It also integrates well with local buses2. 8/10
Ampang line LRT? Bad. Unless you live or work in either Sentul, Ampang3 or Bukit Jalil there’s little point to using these outdated trains on this faintly ’90s smelling service. It smacks of a stalled project never allowed to grow into its own. I only ever use it to go to the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, and even then it’s rarely a comfortable journey. The one plus side? Trains are all long, with none of the small two-car crap we see in the Monorail and some of the older Kelana Jaya LRT trains. 4.5/10
Monorail? Terrible. Don’t even get me started. For such a short route the time between trains is atrocious, and it seems that the only people who use the Monorail only ever want to alight at Bukit Bintang. It’s small, cramped, and is fertile training ground for aspiring pickpockets. And to make things worse, its so-called integration with the Kelana Jaya line at KL Sentral requires you to alight at the terrible, tiny “KL Sentral” Monorail station and walk 200 meters through noisy, dusty, sunny Brickfields into the underground road under KL Sentral proper where airport buses wait. Not a pleasant walk by any circumstance. 3/10
KLIA Ekspres? What a breeze. Gorgeous stations, gets you from KL Sentral to Kuala Lumpur International Airport in 27 minutes, never congested, always comfortable. I judge this unfairly because it’s not a city metro service as it is a direct line to the airport — but it is just such a delight to take. 9/10
KTM Komuter? Awful, but getting better. Up to about a year ago nobody had any sort of positive opinion on the Komuter service. Ancient trains, slow speeds, always, always packed. It’s not even pickpocket central, it’s groping central. The introduction of female-only cars has done little to alleviate the pain for most passengers. A good friend of mine has gone on to say that she’d rather take the normal cars because she’d rather risk getting groped than deal with the catfight-friendly, oppressively judgmental atmosphere of the women’s coach. The implementation of new modern trains gives it an edge over even the Kelana Jaya line. I took one from KL Sentral to Mid Valley and was incredibly surprised at how good it was. But then again, that’s such a short one-stop journey at a non-peak hour.
—As for the train in the photo above? That’s the intercity KTM train that goes all the way to Singapore. There are seats, sleepers and private sleepers. While the KTM is a hopelessly outdated service in extremely dire need of a 21st century 1Malaysia makeover, the old trains do succeed at retaining the charm and romance of these epic train journeys, the kind where you go to sleep while the train remains firmly in KL Sentral and wake up already at the checkpoint at Tanjung Pagar4, Singapore. Doesn’t that just make you want to pace up and down coaches until you find the elusive dinner train?
1 Light rail transit.
2 No surprise there. RapidKL also operates the bus system. It took a number of years to get it from ‘terrible’ to ‘passable’, and still has some way to go before it gets to ‘good’.
3 Ampang is a sprawling mess with neighborhoods called Ampang even when it’s technically not really Ampang — the burden of a desirable address. Today we see this in Damansara: it seems like half of KL’s newest developments are Damansara This or Damansara That, even the ones that are nowhere near Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.
4 Ever since Singapore closed Tanjung Pagar, sited within the core city of Singapore, the KTM intercity service arrives instead at the northern border town of Woodlands, which takes away a lot of the charm and romance of the journey, or so other train passengers tell me… Have a better story? Write me! firstname.lastname@example.org
I wanted to write words with this photo but I was just caught up by how incredible this is. It’s almost as if the photographer captured the essence of Kuala Lumpur in just a single frozen frame.
You don’t need people flitting in and out of KL’s nightclubs to show you what KL really is. You don’t need the Petronas Twin Towers looming heavy over everyone. You don’t need malls and fountains and lights.
After all — what is Kuala Lumpur? A muddy confluence with shoplots, cars, trash, sinks, grilles, carts, stools, food, tourists, ATMs, rain, and promise.
Selamat pagi1, Kuala Lumpur. Look at you. This is the city I grew up in. This is the city I fell in love with. Once a long time ago I looked upon you with disdain and thought you were personalityless. What did I know then? I knew sedate shopping malls and movie halls. I knew Metrobuses that were too slow to rely on and smelled like piss. Did I ever recognize you for your beauty? I grew out of that and today I love you with a fierceness. I love you for your impossibly double-parked streets (on both sides!); I love you for the eateries I can slip in and out of at 4am, in any neighborhood; I love you for the lights over Dataran Merdeka; I love you for the times I’ve had to fish my cellphone out of a dry longkang2. The only thing I don’t love you for is your traffic — but even then I love you for not having it as bad as Jakarta does.
1 Selamat pagi: good morning.
2 Longkang: drain. They’re everpresent in Kuala Lumpur.
Not an angle you see a lot of. The Petronas Twin Towers (“KLCC”) are so tall it’s not often you actually get to see the top. When magnified in such a manner, you start to rethink how you consider the skyscraper. It’s more than just the tallest towers in Kuala Lumpur; more than most identifiable landmark in a city of lovely buildings.
At this distance it looks more like a pair of futuristic pens. Look at those spires. When I was a child in school, a friend told me in all seriousness that we wouldn’t have to worry about any other country trying to beat us by building a taller tower: he said that Dr Mahathir1 had made sure that if anybody tried to one-up our twin towers he’d just lift the top off and add more floors to it until we were on top again.
It’s a testament to the Mahathirian megaproject era that the story was not completely improbable.
1 Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the fourth prime minister of Malaysia, whose tenure lasted from 1981 to 2003, notable for ushering an era of modernity into an otherwise Third World economy. His 22 years as prime minister is the longest of any of the six we’ve had so far. Even though he is 86 today he’s still a remarkably fit man with speaking engagements all over the world.
- "A protester sits in front of riot police…" by Samsul Said/REUTERS
The recent Bersih1 rallies have had each their own iconic images2. The second rally, held on July 9, 2011, had the profound ‘Aunty Bersih’ image, depicting 65 year old retired teacher Annie Ooi drenched in chemically-laced water, with a formation of riot gear-armed police officers and police trucks in the background.
The third protest for clean elections, Bersih 3.0, held on April 28 this year, saw its iconic photograph (above) in the form of ‘Mr Straw Hat’ sitting calmly Tank Man3 style as riot police march on the protesters. The man beneath the hat is schoolteacher4 Toh Chin Hong, 27, who insisted in an interview with Malaysiakini that he was 'no hero'.
He tells the story of his experience as that photograph was taken in the Malaysiakini article:
The riot police lobbed a barrage of tear-gas grenades, all of which fell behind Toh and his new-found comrade. However, the crowd picked them up and threw the grenades back at the police line.
Despite photos and videos depicting thick clouds of tear gas, Toh said he did not feel its effects.
"Maybe it was the wind," he said.
Seeing that the tear gas barrage was ineffective in uprooting him, Toh said one plainclothes police officer kicked a tear-gas canister towards him. He picked it up and threw it back, burning his right hand in the process.
This apparently angered the police officer, who was about to beat him with a T-baton, but hesitated when reporters rushed forward to photograph the scene.
He said several police officers in uniform, but without name tags, then roughly hauled the duo away, but released them several metres away behind the police line and left them alone.
While being dragged away, Toh said his questions on whether he was being arrested and the grounds of arrest, were not entertained.
He then sought medical treatment for his burnt hand before rejoining his friends at Chinatown some time after 5pm.
Toh quit teaching the next day to protest his high school’s ban warning students to stay away from the rally or face expulsion.
1 Bersih: short for Gabungan Pilihanraya Bersih dan Adil, or the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections. The word Bersih itself means ‘clean’. The government’s response to it, it is worth saying, rarely is.
2 If nothing else, police action tends to be good for photography…
3 Tank Man, of course, refers to the iconic photograph from that deadly 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstration.
4 What’s with Malaysian schoolteachers and great photos? My teachers were never so cool. Have a rad(ical) schoolteacher? Tell your honest correspondent Mr. Kuala Lumpur all about it at email@example.com
Initial card for KLang Valley Verbally. Design by S. Halle.
Sarawak1 Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud looks like a supervillain in the MSN Malaysia front page today. (For good reason, perhaps?) A deejay from Radio Free Sarawak, Peter John Jaban, was reportedly abducted by three men upon his return to Miri.
Radio Free Sarawak is a radio station broadcasting in English, Malay and Iban. The station was founded by journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown2, whose anti-Taib credits include establishing web news portal Sarawak Report, which exposes alleged corruption and nepotism within Sarawak and the Taib court.
This isn’t the first time people critical of Taib or his family has mysteriously disappeared. Swiss environmental activist Bruno Manser went missing in 2000 after campaigning against the state’s rape of the rainforests3. A former business manager affiliated with the Taib family enterprises, Ross Boyart, committed suicide after years of intimidation.
1 Sarawak is a state in East Malaysia, which comprises the northern half of the island of Borneo. We’re aware that KLang Verbally is Kuala Lumpur-specific, but news like this is of enough national (and international) importance that it’s worth the signal boost.
2 Much has been made of Rewcastle Brown’s family ties to former British prime minister Gordon Brown.
3 Experts believe that every rainforest in timber-rich Sarawak has been logged at least once, with unsustainable logging already affecting 70% of rainforests in the state. While Sarawak is the richest state in Malaysia in terms of natural resources (timber, oil), its people remain the poorest in the country. Abdul Taib Mahmud is the Sarawak Financial Minister and Resource Planning, as well as Sarawak Environment Minister.
Appendix I to our piece on the tweeting ghost of Tunku Abdul Rahman: this is the first ever kad pengenalan, or identification card, ever issued in our country. Appropriately, card number 0000001 goes to Tunku Abdul Rahman. Our favorite part? “Occupation: Prime Minister”
Regular Reads: @TheTunku
Regular Reads discusses blogs, books, and brilliant/bitchy politicians (typically on Twitter!) with content that matters to Malaysia, and klues in on the KLang Valley. Today we read the rants, raves and tweets of the ghost of the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, still spinning in his grave, still sipping brandy when he feels like it, still turning his nose at the lower orders.
I was born in 1990, the year Tunku Abdul Rahman, Bapa Kemerdekaan1, a prince of Kedah2, playboy-turned-Prime Minister, died.
As a result, I knew nothing about the colourful character of the man, only knowing the expurgated, censored, cleaned-up version of him as seen in RTM3 broadcasts and history textbooks. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, Tunku Abdul Rahman underwent an apotheosis in the latter years of his life, and after his death. We know him through a pantheon of images.
We know him for his “Merdeka!” chant.
We know him for his tilted songkok4.
We know him for his immaculate suits.
Of course, the Tunku is imbued with his air of a certain Anglophile culturedness. It’s a little timeless: he was still alive during the Arabization/Islamization of the 1980s, with glory-hunting Mahathirism in its earliest iteration, fanaticism mounting and the era of the penjajah5 (of which Tunku Abdul Rahman is a throwback to) increasingly denounced.
And now, two decades after his death, the Tunku returns… in the form of a satirical Twitter account, @TheTunku.
And he’s bloody hilarious.
Imagine the curmudgeonly Tunku sitting by a fireplace in a library somewhere, an iPad in his hands6. His tweets target everybody from pro-government e-thugs to pro-opposition bleeding hearts. The Bersih rally? Rabblerousers. 1Malaysia? Silly.
His wit and sarcasm can be biting. It’s great, reading his stuff. Whoever it is that’s behind his account captures perfectly the elitism, dismissiveness, and generation gap of someone born at the turn of this century from someone born in the ’80s or ’90s.
It’s hard to describe the Tunku’s tweets as comedy gold: no, they come from a certain knowingness, a sort of so-true-it’s-sad quality to it sometimes. When he jokes about racism and patriotism and gutter politics, there’s a profundity to it you that it’s all spot-on.
And while we’re on the topic: Malaysia sorely needs a classy leader like the Tunku again. Someone needs to reclaim the mantle of a cultured leader-for-all who’s above using religion and race for the purpose of gathering votes.
1 Bapa Kemerdekaan: the Father of Independence. Each of the five previous prime ministers have Bapa titles given to them, some of them undeserving of it. The Tunku’s successor, Tun Abdul Razak was Bapa Pembangunan (Father of Development); Tun Hussein Onn was Bapa Perpaduan (Father of Harmony); Tun Mahathir Mohamad is Bapa Pemodenan (Father of Modernity); and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s brief tenure as Prime Minister was so divisive we still can’t agree who or what he’s the father of. One of the worse suggestions for Pak Lah, as Abdullah was called, is Bapa Pembangunan Modal Insan… Father of Developing Moral Values?
2 Tunku is a royal title. There are actually some kids out there who think it’s his first name. Way to go, Malaysian education system!
3 Radio Televisyen Malaysia: the state broadcasting organ. Nobody who can help it watches it. If a drive through Kuala Lumpur’s less affluent areas is anything to go by, it seems even the hardcore poor can afford Astro7.
4 Songkok: Malaysian headdress in the shape of a truncated cone, usually made of black felt or velvet. Typically worn by Malays for religious or traditional purposes.
5 Penjajah: the colonist. The lands that make up Malaysia were colonized by four major colonial empires from the year 1511 to 1957 (and in the cases of Sabah and Sarawak, 1963): the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British, and the Japanese.
6 It appears the Tunku is tweeting using Echofon, a popular app that’s available for Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Firefox.
7 Astro: Satellite television service owned by MEASAT. Pretty much monopolizes the boobtube market. Hundreds of channels at your disposal. Are you a big TV viewer? You shouldn’t be. Do something productive instead. Write a list of things you’d rather be doing instead of watching TV and send it to your correspondent Mr. Kuala Lumpur at firstname.lastname@example.org
LOKL COFFEE PART 2
So going here soon.
OUR VERY OWN PLACE!
recommend this chic cafe’ in KL
Gorgeous design, great people, perfect location, really appetizing looking food. KLang Verbally wants to check LOKL out soon: you should, too!
(Source: nnnnadia, via backhomekl)
Why is there a 159 year old woman in the voting lists, according to the Election Commission?
The official registered voter database at Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya, which you can check here, has here perhaps the most telling and straight-from-the-source evidence of electoral inconsistencies in Malaysia.